11 Deadlift Variations To Help You Pack On Muscle And Get Stronger

Deadlifts are one of the best ways to build the posterior chain, targeting everything from the upper traps down to the hamstrings. Bottom line – if you want to be build a big, powerful backside, you need to be doing deadlift variations regularly.

There are many different variations to the deadlift, each of which targets slightly different muscles. For example, a Romanian deadlift places more of an emphasis on the eccentric contractions of the hamstrings muscle groups, while the snatch grip deadlift places more emphasis on the traps compared to other variations.

Below are 11 deadlift variations that will challenge you and get your backside big!

11 Deadlift Variations To Help You Pack On Muscle And Get Stronger

VERSION #1: Conventional Deadlift

Stance: Narrow (hip width), toes straight ahead or angled slightly out.

How To: Squat down and grab the bar outside of shoulder width with a double overhand grip. Create tension in your lats by pulling the bar tight, but not so hard that the bar rises of the ground. Initiate the pull by pushing down into the ground through your feet as hard as you can, keeping your back straight throughout. Focus on pushing your hips forward as hard as you can and squeezing your glutes, being careful not to overextend.

VERSION #2: Sumo Deadlift

Stance: Very wide (toes angled out)

How To: Set up with your shins a few inches away from the bar and in a very wide stance, a good measurement is to line the middle of your shin up with the smooth rings on the bar. Drop your butt down and grab the bar with hands between the legs, keep your hips back and chest up. Again initiate the pull by pushing down into the ground and pushing your hips forward, making sure to not overextend again.

VERSION #3: Snatch Grip Deadlift

Stance: Narrow, toes pointed straight ahead or slightly out.

How To: Set up your stance just like you did for the conventional variation but this time you’re going to grab the bar with an extra wide grip – pointer or middle finger on the smooth ring of the bar. Push your hips down and keep your chest up and back straight. Initiate the pull just the same, pushing the hips forward.

VERSION #4: Romanian Deadlift

Stance: Narrow, toes pointed straight ahead or slightly out.

How To: Grab the bar with a slightly-wider than shoulder-width grip. Lift the bar up just as you would for the conventional deadlift above but this time, starting from the top, hinge at the hip until the barbell is about mid shin, then reverse the motion and return to the starting position.

VERSION #5: Deficit Deadlift

Stance: Narrow, toes pointed straight ahead or slightly out, standing on a plate.

How to: Perform a conventional barbell deadlift just the same but this time, stand on a 45-pound plate. Technique stays the same.

VERSION #6: Block/Rack Pull

Stance: Narrow, toes pointed straight ahead or slightly out.

How to: Set a bar up on blocks or pins in a squat rack and perform a conventional deadlift from the blocks/pins.

VERSION #7: Suitcase Deadlift

Stance: Conventional, narrow stance. Toes pointed straight out or slightly out.

How To: Set a barbell up along your side, get down into a conventional deadlift stance, then grab the bar in one hand. Imagine it just as if you were picking up a suitcase. Deadlift the bar up just as if you were doing a conventional deadlift.

VERSION #8: Single Leg Deadlift

Stance: Single leg, with a slight bend in the knee.

How To: Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell and stand straight up, standing on one foot. You should be holding the bell on the opposite side of the foot on the ground. Lower the bell down in front of your down foot as you simultaneously raise your back leg of the ground until your torso and leg are parallel with the ground. Return to the bottom by reversing the motion. For a visual demonstration make sure to check out the video above.

VERSION #9: Dumbbell Deficit Deadlift

Stance: Standing on top of two boxes or stack of plates, slightly wider than hip width.

How To: Stand on top of the boxes that are set up at approximately hip width and set a dumbbell on its end between the boxes. Squat down slightly, then hinge at the hip until you can grab the bell, reverse the motion and lift the bell up until you are standing completely upright. Set it back to the ground by squatting slightly and hinging at the hip.

VERSION #10: Dumbbell Deadlift

Stance: Slightly wider than hip width, toes pointed out.

How To: Perform the deadlift with the dumbbell just as described above with the dumbbell

VERSION #11: Trap (Hex) Bar Deadlift

Stance: Hip width, toes pointed straight ahead.

How To: For this one you need a trap bar (hex bar), step inside and squat down until you can grab the handles, you should be in more of a squat position versus a hip hinge position. Push through the floor and explode up, pushing the hips forward and squeezing the glutes as you lock out the weight.

John Papp

John Papp is an ACE-Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Performance Coach at Xceleration Sports (Auburn Hills, Mich.), where he works with high school and college athletes as well as adult clients. He is a senior at Oakland University, studying Exercise Science.

Website: JohnPappFitness.com